Warning: This article contains full spoilers for The Mandalorian: Season 3, Episode 1! Be sure to check out ’s review of the premiere and brush up on how to watch The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian has finally returned on Disney+, and the first episode of Season 3 gives fans plenty to chew on. From new revelations about the Darksaber and the divided peoples of Mandalore to the unexpected return of a fan-favorite character, “The Apostate” proved to be a very eventful start to Season 3.
Let’s take a closer look at what the premiere reveals about the current state of Mandalore and Din Djarin’s mission in Season 3 and the show’s biggest mysteries right now. Why exactly is the series is bringing back a familiar face? What’s the deal with all the pirates. What are those hyperspace creatures? Here’s what we know and what we have yet to learn.
Why Are the Mandalorians So Divided?
The Season 3 premiere builds on one of the fundamental themes of the series – the idea that the Mandalorians are still divided and homeless even years after the fall of the Empire. We’ve seen glimpses of what Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan and Emily Swallow’s Armorer refer to as “The Purge.” At some point after Bo-Katan accepted the Darksaber from Sabine Wren in Star Wars Rebels, the Empire decimated Mandalore and left the planet’s surface a smoking ruin.
“The Apostate” digs even deeper into the Purge and the current state of this ruined world. Mando has uncovered an artifact taken from Mandalore’s surface, one the Armorer fears is a sign the surface has been reduced to glass. The Empire seems to have taken the same scorched earth approach to rebellious worlds as the Covenant in the Halo franchise. They bombard the planet with so much turbolaser fire that the soil itself melts and crystallizes.
Mando’s reunion with Bo-Katan adds more insight into the current fractured state of the Mandalorian people. Bo-Katan was leading her own faction in Season 2, but after once again failing to claim the Darksaber in honorable combat, she’s basically lost all support from her people. She rules over nothing but an empty castle.
Their conversation also reveals that Mando and his fanatical cohorts, the Children of the Watch, share their own part of the blame for Mandalore’s fate. According to Bo-Katan, the Watch turned their backs on Mandalore and its people before the Empire’s Purge, leaving the planet that much less defended in its hour of need. Din may feel this is another sin for which he has to atone. He himself would have been too young to defend Mandalore, but the adults in his cohort failed their world. Maybe he can redeem them now.
What Happens to the Darksaber Now?
Since its original appearance at the end of Season 1, the Darksaber has become increasingly central to the plot of The Mandalorian. By now we know that this weapon signifies the right to rule Mandalore and lead its people. Bo-Katan once wielded it during the heyday of the Empire, but the fact that it was given to her rather than earned in combat means she was never truly fit to rule in the eyes of some. And because she lost the blade during the Purge, her worthiness is a moot point anyway. Even she now seems resigned to giving up her throne, as she doesn’t bother to challenge Din when he pays her a visit.
Now that Mando won the Darksaber in battle against Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon, he’s suddenly become the best candidate to unify the galaxy’s scattered Mandalorians and rebuild Mandalore. If he can reunite his people and earn the respect of Bo-Katan’s “stolen fleet,” Mandalore might once again become a force to be reckoned with in the galaxy.
The problem remains, though, that he doesn’t actually want that responsibility. Din doesn’t even believe himself to be a true Mandalorian until he can bathe in the living waters of Mandalore and cleanse himself of sin. If he is destined to become the new ruler of Mandalore, it won’t be until after he returns home and finds those fabled pools.
Hopefully, by the end of Season 3 we’ll have a better idea of where his story is headed and whether Din is ready to accept the responsibility that’s been placed upon him. Will he lead, or will he find a way to pass the Darksaber onto another? Maybe Bo-Katan will work up the nerve and actually defeat him this time? Maybe Boba Fett will get tired of ruling over his tiny criminal empire and stake his own claim for Mandalore? That, at least, has some basis in the old Expanded Universe stories.
How Do IG-11 and Grogu Fit In?
Both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett have been making a habit of bringing back characters we thought were out of the picture. First, The Book of Boba Fett cut short Grogu’s Jedi training (which, according to Jon Favreau, lasted anywhere between one to two years) to reunite the little critter with his dad.
Now Mando seems intent on bringing back IG-11, who heroically sacrificed himself in the Season 1 finale. Enough of IG-11’s body survived the self-destruct blast to reassemble, but his memory chip is damaged beyond repair. That paves the way for Mando’s first real quest in Season 3. Before he heads to Mandalore, he’s determined to find the parts he needs to fully rebuild IG-11.
The question is why Din is so hellbent on resurrecting IG-11. He explains to Greef that he needs a droid he can trust, but does it count if they’re basically rebuilding IG-11’s brain from scratch? Is IG-11 even going to remember the events of Season 1 when he’s fully rebuilt?
More than the question of trustworthiness, we suspect this quest is more about settling old debts and reconciling the past. Din owes IG-11 his life, and that’s a debt he can’t repay unless he reactivates the droid. And given that his overarching goal is to cleanse his sins and atone for the past, Din may be looking to settle all unfinished business.
Then there’s the question of why Grogu is back in the picture. As nice as it is to see these two characters reunited, Season 2’s finale also felt like the end of their shared story. Why have Mando make that painful sacrifice only to almost immediately undo it (and in a completely different series, no less)? That’s harder to say.
But if we had to guess, we’d speculate that Grogu may be an essential part of Din’s quest on Mandalore. The constant references to “living waters” suggests that these pools may be tinged with the Force. Whatever purifying ritual Din needs to undergo, he may need Grogu with him to actually move things along. It’ll be interesting to see if bathing in these pools allows Din to feel the Force and commune with Grogu in a way he normally couldn’t.
Is the Series Setting Up the First Order?
With Moff Gideon on trial for war crimes and Bo-Katan being positioned as more of a philosophical rival to Mando rather than an actual nemesis, the series needs a villain in Season 3. The premiere suggests the focus may be shifting to pirates. We meet a pirate warlord named Gorian Shard who clearly has plans for Nevarro that don’t align with those of the now thoroughly respectable Greef Karga.
Pirates have played a role in various Star Wars projects in the past, but there could actually be a deeper significance to this story pivot. While Shard himself is a new character, the general threat of space pirates plays a very significant role in the post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars universe. The New Republic is busy trying to restore peace to a lawless galaxy, but because it’s been demilitarized following the collapse of the Empire, the Republic doesn’t really have the resources to deal with the growing threat of pirates and others who seek to take advantage of this power vacuum.
As established in the animated series Star Wars Resistance, the pirate menace actually directly contributes to the rise of the First Order. With the citizens of the Republic increasingly threatened by these pirates, the First Order appears seemingly out of nowhere to begin enforcing law and order in the Outer Rim. The New Republic creates the conditions in which its greatest enemy can rise to power.
Even with recent time jumps, The Mandalorian is still set many years before the events of the Sequel Trilogy. But we’ve already seen the series lay some seeds for the First Order with the cameo of the Supreme Leader Snoke body and references to the Empire’s secret cloning projects. Focusing on the growing pirate menace could be one more way of connecting the dots.
What Are the Hyperspace Creatures?
“The Apostate” includes an unusual scene where Grogu witnesses a group of tentacled creatures traveling through hyperspace. He’s clearly spooked by the sighting, though he and Mando make it through their journey without being harmed.
This scene seems to be directly linking The Mandalorian back to the final episode of Star Wars Rebels. That series ended with both Ezra Bridger and Grand Admiral Thrawn being dragged across the galaxy by a group of Purrgil. These whale-like creatures have the unique biological gift to travel through hyperspace.
This probably isn’t a minor cameo, either. We know that the upcoming Star Wars: Ahsoka will reintroduce another major Rebels character in Natasha Liu Bordizzo’s Sabine Wren, and it’s assumed that both Thrawn and Ezra will be appearing, as well. The Purrgil cameo has us wondering if we might be seeing some of these characters even sooner than expected.
What Happened to Gina Carano’s Cara Dune?
The Mandalorian fans have been wondering how exactly the series would handle the firing of actress Gina Carano after Season 2. In her last appearance, it appeared as though Cara was being set up for a bigger role in the spinoff series Rangers of the New Republic. But with Carano on the outs with Disney and Rangers of the New Republic itself now in limbo, it’s been anyone’s guess how or if Cara Dune will ever appear again.
The Season 3 premiere more or less answers that question. Unsurprisingly, Cara has been given the Poochie treatment, a la The Simpsons. She didn’t actually “die on the way back to her home planet,” but Cara is essentially written out of the picture when Greef Karga mentions that she was recruited for a New Republic special forces unit.
This seems to be a case of Lucasfilm hedging its bets. They didn’t kill Cara off, meaning it’s possible the part could be recast and she might return in a future season. The special forces tease could be alluding to the plot of Rangers of the New Republic, meaning that series may still one day happen.
Executive producer Rick Famuyiwa told Deadline, “Cara was a big part and continues as a character to be part of the world.” That alone suggests we may still see Cara again, though likely with a new actress.
Let us know your theories about where Season 3 is headed in the comments below.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for . Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.